Originally written on Pro Football Spot  |  Last updated 11/5/14
As I sift through the carnage that was the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 loss to the previously winless New York Giants on Monday Night Football in Week 7, I can't help but to think about how I felt about the Vikings' chances prior to the game and how I channeled my inner Lloyd Christmas early Monday afternoon.Christmas, of course, is Jim Carrey's character in the cinematic classic Dumb and Dumber.In the film, Christmas chases his dream girl across the country in an effort to return her briefcase and live with her happily ever after. When he gets the courage to ask if they'll ever be together, she reveals that she's married and the chance would be about one and a million.After digesting the bad news, Christmas looks at her and says..."So you're tellin' me there's a chance...yeah!!"That's the way I felt about the Vikings heading into their date with the Giants as the NFC North had been kicked wide open the previous afternoon.The Chicago Bears fell to the Washington Redskins 45-41 and lost Jay Cutler for a month with an abdominal tear and Lance Briggs for another six weeks with a shoulder injury.The Detroit Lions gave the Cincinnati Bengals a steady diet of Calvin Johnson, but they fell on a late Mike Nugent field goal on a score of 27-24.Then, the Green Bay Packers picked up a victory over the Cleveland Browns, but also lost Jermichael Finley on a scary neck injury and were still within reach at a record of 3-3. Well, that was if the Vikings could defeat the 0-6 Giants.Turns out that was too much to ask.The Vikings came out in front of a national television audience and looked like a sixth grade team trying to challenge a high school powerhouse (I still can't call the Giants a legitimate NFL team either after their performance).Aside from Marcus Sherels' punt return late in the first quarter, the Vikings never saw the end zone the rest of the night and took their beating from one of the last winless teams in the NFL.Even the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars could have slaughtered the Vikings on this night as they shot themselves in the face enough that it made their fans think that was a legitimate way to deal with such a loss.The Vikings are 1-5 and get to face the Packers in front of another nationally televised audience in Week 8. Any hopes of a playoff berth have fallen shorter than a Christian Ponder pass and that has made the final ten games all about evaluation for a team expected to contend last August.Don't Hate on Josh Freeman YetFreeman made his anticipated debut after coming over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month. The results were on par with what you would expect when a quarterback has 14 days to learn the playbook.Freeman overthrew receivers, made poor reads and slammed the Viking offense into the turf with every chance he got.When your quarterback is leading your team to just five first downs through three quarters, you know there are massive problems.Despite all the negatives, there were several positives about the former Bucs' performance.Although he overthrew receivers constantly, he did show that he has a cannon of an arm that can stretch the defense. Such throws were non-existent when Ponder and Matt Cassel were at the helm.Freeman also showed an ability to extend the play by moving around in the pocket. Remember all those times when Ponder sat until Ndamukong Suh gave him the Iron Shiek treatment? Well, that still happened with Freeman, but he gave himself a chance to make a play downfield first.Despite this, fans have taken to Twitter to scream for Ponder to replace Freeman.Jon Gruden suggested this to be an option on the telecast, but it should be remembered that he's keeping his doors open for a possible coaching vacancy in Minnesota if the play continues to be this poor (If you listened closely, you can also hear him building up special teamer Andrew Sendejo late in the third quarter).The Vikings need to ride Freeman in the final ten games. The season isn't going anywhere and there's still a chance that he gets comfortable and improves as the season goes on.After all, this was the scenario all along. If Freeman succeeds, the Vikings have a quarterback of the future. If he fails, the Vikings get to select his replacement with a top-five draft selection.Where's The Beef?I'd love to be talking about Tom Brady's magical pass to Kenbrell Thompkins last week, but instead I'm talking about the missing status of the offensive line.What was a unit that paved the way for Adrian Peterson to run for over 2,000 yards a season ago, has disappeared to the point where I have considered placing an ad on milk cartons to ensure their safe return to the field on Sunday afternoons (and, in this case, Monday nights).In no place was this more evident in Monday's performance than Peterson's stat line.On 13 carries, the reigning league MVP gained just 28 yards on the ground. By comparison, Peyton Hillis (who was signed off the street by the Giants on Monday) had 18 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown.To the line's credit, the Vikings have said that Peterson is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. Still, it's possible that "nagging hamstring injury" might be Leslie Frazier's jargon term for "horrible offensive line" in the same way that "broken ribs" mean "you're benched."If there is any success to be had with the Vikings, it starts and ends with the offensive line. If they can't pull it together, it will be an incredibly long winter for everybody involved.The Defense Finally Showed Up...Kind Of...On paper, it appeared that the talent of the Giants would be too much for the Vikings to overcome.After all, the Vikings were dealing with a young secondary that had just put Harrison Smith on the short-term injured reserve list and the Giants had three talented wideouts in Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.Still, the defense held their own and limited the Giants to 23 points...or did they?All night long, the Giants shot themselves in the foot in a manner that made the Vikings blush. The receivers ran bad routes. Eli Manning made poor decisions. The ball was put on the turf.All these mistakes, and the Viking defense just couldn't execute.As much as there's a desire to say that things have turned around, the Vikings still need help in all levels of the defense. That's a job that will have to wait until the 2014 NFL Draft and free agency, but until then someone will have to step up and stop what's being thrown in front of them.Bill Musgrave Needs to GoIf there is one man that should take a verbal lashing for Monday night's performance, look no further than the master of the post-it note playbook, "Wild" Bill Musgrave.For the second straight week, Musgrave decided to go away from what the Vikings do best.Instead of using the power running game that helped guide the team to a playoff berth in the absence of Percy Harvin, Musgrave decided to have his new quarterback throw the ball 53 times compared to 14 rushes.Even if the Giants were trying to take away Peterson, this is unacceptable and the final straw for an offensive coordinator who...- Swore up and down that Christian Ponder would lead this offense to victory.- Is stubborn enough to keep Jerome Simpson on the field over the more dynamic Cordarrelle Patterson.And...- Is so incompetent that he can not find a way to utilize an offense that has more talent that they've shown including weapons such as Patterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Joe Webb.All of this had been here since the beginning of the season, but the horrible play calling in the past couple weeks should be the final nail in Musgrave's coffin.Odds are that the Vikings will keep Musgrave through the end of the year so that Josh Freeman doesn't have another obstacle in his quest to show that he's "The Man." But, there is no way that they can keep him once the season is over.He's already ruined one quarterback, they can't afford to have him destroy the potential of another.Chris Schad is the NFC North Division Manager for Pro Football Spot. His work has also been featured on Bleacher Report and the Yahoo Contributor Network. You can follow Chris on Twitter @crishad.
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